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Gift ideas get shopping started

by Flip Putthoff | December 8, 2020 at 7:00 a.m.
The Whopper Plopper top-water fishing lure is all the rage among anglers in the Ozarks and beyond. They come in a variety of colors and sizes. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)

Deer hunting is winding down, but the safari for that perfect Christmas gifts is underway. There's no holiday head scratching when loved ones who enjoy the outdoors are on your nice list.

We're here today with some gift ideas that aim to please, so let the hunting begin.

• Guided Beaver Lake striper fishing trip. Striped bass are some of the biggest fish in the lake and a thrill to catch. Several fishing guides are in business on the lake, eager to show your favorite angler the joy of catching these hard fighters. Big stripers weigh 30 to 40 pounds or more. Sore arms never felt so good.

Stripers roam in open water, so it takes some specialized electronics to find them. Guides have the latest fish-finding gear on their boats. Most guides provide everything -- boat, fuel, bait, rods and reels and a wealth of angling knowledge. They even clean your fish. All your lucky loved one has to do is show up. Hiring a guide is no guarantee of a catch, but they're on the water all year and know where stripers roam.

We've suggested this gift before and some gifters have reported back how fun the trip was for the giftee.

Cost is about $400 per day for one or two people, slightly less for a half day. A computer search will turn up several guides to contact. They'll fill you in on how to give a striper fishing gift.

• Hiking, waterfall guidebooks. Give a trail or waterfall guidebook and the hard part for your loved one will be deciding which trail or cascade to visit first. Guidebooks by local author, wilderness photographer and hiker Tim Ernst are perfect, especially for people new to the area.

Two must-haves are "Arkansas Hiking Trails" and "Arkansas Waterfalls." The trail guidebook has maps, mile-by-mile trail descriptions of more than 70 hiking trails, plus driving directions to the trailhead. Trails for hikers of all abilities are in the book.

"Arkansas Waterfalls" tells explorers how to find their way to more than 200 waterfalls. That's a lifetime of waterfall hunting.

Some waterfalls you can drive right up to. Others require miles of tough bushwhack hiking. Each is illustrated with Ernst's spectacular waterfall photography. Plan to spend about $23 for either guidebook. That's an outstanding investment in outdoor enjoyment for your special someone. Buy them at timernst.com, at book stores and outdoor stores.

• State parks cycling jersey. Your favorite pusher of pedals will ride in style in a bright yellow Arkansas State Parks jersey. They're so comfortable and lightweight, with two zipper pockets on the back of the jersey.

No telling how many times we've been riding and someone asked, "Where'd you get that jersey?" Pick one up at an Arkansas State Parks visitor center for $65. Visitor centers have other great gifts for little kids and adult kids.

• Whopper Plopper fishing lure. Fishing lures come and go in fashion like styles of sunglasses. A hot lure right now in the Ozarks fishing world is the Whopper Plopper top-water bass fishing lure.

There's something about a Whopper Plopper that gets black bass to bite. We can't put our finger on it, but the lure puts bass in the boat on Beaver Lake and our Ozarks streams, particularly the Elk River. They're not much of a winter bait, but come spring, your angler will be ready.

Whopper Ploppers come in different sizes and colors. A small black one is our favorite. Any color that looks like a minnow would also be good. And talk about easy to wrap. Buy one at your local fishing store for $13 to $16, depending on the size.

• Cordless electric filet knife. No need for an outlet when you filet fish with this baby. You can clean fish anywhere, at the boat ramp, at home or on a creekside gravel bar. Good-bye cord.

We're totally sold on our Rapala Ion cordless electric knife after a morning of crappie fishing at Lake Fort Smith. Last spring, a buddy and I each caught our limit of 30 crappie. (The limit is 15 at Beaver and some other lakes.) That's 60 fish. I figured I'd filet half our catch and have to recharge the knife to finish the job. Negatory good buddy.

That knife zipped through two limits of crappie and never slowed down. I'll bet it would've cleaned three limits easy. A Rapala Ion cordless filet knife will thin your billfold by about $75. That's more than a knife with a cord, but so worth the money.

Not only that, it'll carve that Christmas turkey like nobody's business.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fputthoff@nwadg.com

An Arkansas State Parks cycling jersey is sure to please the pedalers on your gift list. They're available at Arkansas State Parks visitor centers. Throwing in a new mountain bike with the jersey is optional.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
An Arkansas State Parks cycling jersey is sure to please the pedalers on your gift list. They're available at Arkansas State Parks visitor centers. Throwing in a new mountain bike with the jersey is optional. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Guidebooks by Tim Ernst, local wilderness photographer, author and hiker, make fine Christmas gifts.
(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
Guidebooks by Tim Ernst, local wilderness photographer, author and hiker, make fine Christmas gifts. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)
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